How much time do you spend in your car? Before I up and moved to New York City, I spent probably more than 10 hours a week in my car, whether commuting to work, running errands, or heading to a social event. This presented me with an opportunity not only to catch up on podcasts, but also to charge my electronics. Why let that cigarette lighter go to waste? For years I never had a discharged iPod. The thing was almost always running on full battery, because I had it plugged in whenever possible. Ditto my BlackBerry. If you spend more than five hours per week in your car, I highly recommend picking up a BlackBerry car charger. The only question that remains is of which you will choose.
Know your USB type
As you well know, your BlackBerry uses a small USB port for data transfers and charging. Over the years this has changed from Mini USB to Micro USB. This has been a huge pain for those of us who had multiple BlackBerry chargers that were rendered useless when we upgraded devices. If you have a BlackBerry from the 88xx, 83xx, Bold 9000, and younger series, you have a MIni USB port. If you have any of the newer models, including the Pearl flip, Tour, Bold 9700, Storm, or new Curve series (including 8900), you have a Micro USB port. Keep this in mind when choosing a charger. If you find a charger you like and it’s Mini USB, you can get a Mini-USB to Micro-USB adapter. It’s just $10, and it also allows you to use your old charging apparatus.
Basic and cheap
This is the way I’ve gone on car chargers. You can walk into any electronics store and see a selection of car chargers that will work with your BlackBerry model. Just pick up the cheapest, easiest one, and you’re done. It will do the same thing as the more expensive ones, so why pay more? The downside, of course, comes in the charger’s durability. As I said, I used to grab the $10 charger and run with that. The only problem that caused me was that it often broke. So it was back to the store for another $10 model. And on and on. I could still never justify getting a more expensive model, even knowing that it would last me longer. I guess I could never get over the question of how much longer. Would it be economical? The upside is that while the charger works, it will juice up your device just like any other charger. And, if you’re lucky, it might last you a good while. Again, why pay more?
Basic and a tick more expensive
Some people prefer name-brand devices. Not only does this offer some implied assurance of quality, but it also means you’re likely getting a more durable device. Take this Motorola charger for instance. It lists at $24.95 (though only $14.95 at the BBGeeks Store) and provides no additional features over the cheaper chargers. Part of what you’re paying for, of course, is the Motorola brand. How much more durable is the more expensive charger, then? It’s tough to answer that, since it depends on a number of factors. Do you plan to charge your device daily? Are you known to abuse your electronics? In other words, durability depends a lot on how someone uses the device. Someone who takes good care of the car charger might get more use out of the $10 model than a careless user gets out of a $25 charger. Even if you’re paying for name brand, you probably shouldn’t pay more than $20 for a car charger — so don’t pay full price for that Motorola one. It just doesn’t make sense, at least to me, to pay more than double the cost of another charger. If the cheaper one breaks, you can get another one and you’re still at the price of the more expensive one. Unless two of the cheaper ones don’t last as long as the more expensive one, you’ll come out ahead.
Perhaps you want to go all out with your BlackBerry car charger. You want not only the cigarette lighter adapter, but you also want a mount so you can use your GPS and not glance into your lap to check the directions. It also allows you to check your messages more easily — but only at stoplights, of course. We at BBGeeks do not encourage texting while driving. Nor do a number of states. These BlackBerry car kits start at $20 for a basic model. Considering the price of the basic car charger that sounds like a great deal, right? Not so fast. When you’re looking at car mounts, you need to make sure that it does, in fact, include a charging port. Many, including the cheaper iGrip models, do not include a charger. That means going for a more expensive model. This, I think, makes more sense than buying a $25 straight charger, even if it does cost a little more total. My personal favorite is still the Carcomm Mobile PDA cradle. It’s straight forward, simple, and basically ready out of the box. You can even hook it straight up to your car’s power system, as to avoid the long USB cord. If you want something a bit fancier, Cooper likes the Mr. Handsfree Genius Bluetooth Carkit. You’ll spend a bit more time setting it up, but once you do it does a lot more than the Carcomm kit.
The search for the right car charger might seem a bit daunting, what with all the choices. Keep it simple, though. Know what you’re looking for and know your price range before you go shopping. Once you find one that fits your criteria, read the relevant reviews, Google it, and go from there. You’re bound to find one that fits you perfectly.